Spark Tank Semi Finalists Announced

Spark Tank Semi Finalists Announced

Thirteen energy saving ideas for Central West communities will be pitched to a team of energy experts next year as part of a campaign to increase energy efficiency in homes, businesses and communities in the state’s Central West, Member for Bathurst Paul Toole said. The community led competition, Spark Tank, was established to kick start innovative home-grown energy solutions in Central West NSW. The NSW Government is supporting the Bathurst based community organisation, Skillset, to deliver the Spark Tank campaign. “The 13 semi-finalists have demonstrated ideas with great potential to boost energy productivity for homes, businesses and communities,” Mr Toole said. “Reducing energy costs is vital to the long-term sustainability of communities and industries across Central West NSW.” The semi-finalists will pitch their project ideas to a group of energy experts at a Gala Night on Thursday 16 March 2017 in a bid to be one of three projects to secure start-up funding as well as ongoing support to bring their ideas to life. Senior Manager of Skillset Environment Ashley Bland said he and his team would now help the semi-finalists to incubate their ideas and build new networks. “We look forward to helping the semi-finalists continue to explore their concepts, innovate and give legs to their ideas,” Mr Bland said. “We’re excited that three of these project ideas will ultimately win Spark Tank and receive support for their energy efficiency projects from a $50,000 innovator funding pool as well as mentoring worth $25,000 and other support provided by Spark Tank sponsors. “These winners can turn their ideas into realities and Central West NSW can look forward to three great local energy efficiency projects.” For more information follow the link:

Image: Paul Toole MP with Skillset CEO Craig Randazzo and Skillset Strategic Projects Manager Sandra Gray at yesterday’s Spark Tank Announcement

Pioneer Dairy Project Delivers

Pioneer Dairy Project Delivers

On Friday, 2 December 2016 Skillset Green Army completed the Central Coast Wetlands Riparian Corridor linking Dairy Swamp and Wyong River project in Tuggerah in partnership with Project Host, Pioneer Dairy. This project is a prime example of the important environmental work the Green Army has achieved.  This was the 4th and final Pioneer Dairy project which had commenced out of the very first round of the Green Army in October 2014 and consequently concludes Skillset’s delivery of Round 1 projects.

The project site was 155 hectares in a unique location adjacent to rail line and lies between the suburb of Tuggerah/Wyong and Tuggerah Lakes. The site included creeks, wetlands and areas requiring bush regeneration along various water courses as well as several heritage buildings associated with the old Pioneer Dairy. The project included construction of boardwalks adjacent to the natural Wetland Area referred to as the Pioneer Dairy Swamp. The project also included development of a community propagation facility east of the Pedestrian Precinct around the heritage buildings.

Some of the environmental outcomes of the project include:

  • 16Ha of revegetation work completed.
  • 4595 plants propagated
  • 37.15Ha of weed treatment.

Aside from important environmental outcomes Green Army projects have also delivered significant social benefits and the Dairy Creek project is no exception. The project facilitated to employment and graduation  of 30 young people – which means they now have significant work experience, skills and qualifications with which to enter the job market. The Tuggerah Green Army team also produced Skillset’s Green Army Participant of the Year – 2015/16 Emma Weatherstone. Emma was integral in the production of a 143 page Ecological Site Assessment of the Pioneer Dairy site along with the Team Supervisor and two other participants, who also co-authored the report.

Green Army programs such as Dairy Creek have been happening across Australia over the past 2 years – delivering critical resources to important local environmental projects and we are proud to celebrate the end of another project successfully delivered. As the Green Army slogan says “LOCAL PEOPLE LOCAL PROJECTS” – it doesn’t get much better than that.

Draft Climate Change Fund Strategic Plan

Draft Climate Change Fund Strategic Plan


Skillset has thrown its support behind the Climate Change Fund Draft Strategic Plan launched last month by Environment Minister Mark Speakman for the Baird Government. The plan is backed by a $500 million investment to 2022 and contains a range of proposed policy frameworks and actions that address the challenges and opportunities around climate change. Headline objectives include achieving net zero emissions by 2050 and making NSW more resilient to a changing climate. 

Skillset Environment Senior Manager Ashley Bland says the plan is one of the most progressive in the world and recognised the vast benefits to be realised from the global response to climate change. “The plan shows what many of us have been saying for years now; that environmentally focussed policy is not only the right thing to do morally, but represents a major economic opportunity –particularly for regional Australians” he said. “As an example, the $200 million invested in helping NSW residents be more energy efficient not only helps those people and businesses immediately, but also is estimated to provide up to 870 jobs and save $17 billion by 2050. That’s not to mention the jobs and growth supported by the advanced energy strategy”.

The government is interested in public feedback on the document and is asking people to make submissions online.  Skillset will be making a submission and is happy to include thoughts from the community. If you have any ideas or feedback please email us before December 16 at .

And of course our Spark Tank Program funded by Office of Environment and Heritage is still open for applications so if you have a practical idea about how to save energy you can also put an idea forward for start-up funding here. Applications close December 12.

Skillset is committed to the future of regional Australians. Skillset – Your Future Our Focus